Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis: As Russia steals free elections, the EU should react more resolutely

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 10 May in Brussels, Belgium, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis attended the Foreign Affairs Council meeting, which focused on transatlantic relations, further strained EU-Russia relations, the situation in the Western Balkans, Belarus, and other foreign policy issues.

The Foreign Minister said that while celebrating its Victory Day parade, Russia demonstrated a militarized policy and the situation along Ukraine’s borders may begin to deteriorate at any time.“The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s organisation has been declared extremist. This has taken away the opportunity to participate in political life and paralysed the only movement capable of opposing the regime before the upcoming Duma elections. As Russia steals the right to vote, the EU should react more resolutely in dealing with these violations of human rights,” said the Foreign Minister, who also stressed the need to reduce the number of representatives of Russian military intelligence in the EU and to increase support for Russian civil society.According to Landsbergis, if there is no principled EU response to Russia’s actions, including staging a terrorist attack in the Czech Republic, which is a member of the EU and NATO, Russia will consider this as an open invitation to continue to stage attacks. “The EU must act strategically. Moreover, our involvement in the Eastern Partnership countries is of geopolitical importance,” said Landsbergis.
During a video conference with the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, Landsbergis noted on behalf of the Baltic states that the world was facing not only economic and social, but also security challenges, as a result of climate change. The Foreign Minister called on the U.S. together with the EU to promote changes in attitudes of the world’s largest emitters towards the negative effects of climate change, new opportunities stemming from innovation and the green transition.

According to the Foreign Minister, the Baltic states have made significant progress in the areas of renewable energy and circular economy, which they could share with the most vulnerable Eastern neighbours.
As regards the situation in the Western Balkans, the Foreign Minister highlighted the importance of the EU’s political involvement in the region and compliance with the undertaken commitments, as well as stressed that the EU’s absence in the region left a vacuum, opened the door to foreign interference, and was not in line with the EU’s strategic objectives.
“A reliable and realistic prospect for the EU enlargement is the best geopolitical investment in the stability and security of the region. I call on those member states that have unresolved bilateral issues to resolve them as soon as possible, so that we could open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia without delay, and waive visa requirements for Kosovo’s citizens,” said the Foreign Minister.Photos: Foreign Affairs Council

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EU Foreign Affairs Ministers to discuss their reaction to Russia’s hostile actions

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 10 May, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis will attend the Foreign Affairs Council to discuss transatlantic relations, the Western Balkans, relations with Russia, as well as the situation in Belarus, Afghanistan, the Sahel and Lebanon.

With a view to the upcoming European Council in May, Ministers will discuss their reaction to Russia’s actions, which are escalating tensions with the EU, as well the country’s repression of civil society and the political opposition.“Recent steps taken by the Kremlin — drawing up the list of unfriendly countries and imposing sanctions on high EU officials — further widen the gap between the EU and Russia, while labelling civil society organisations as ‘extremist’ demonstrates the Kremlin’s completely desperate efforts to preserve power,” said Landsbergis ahead of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels.The head of Lithuania’s diplomacy will share with his EU counterparts the assessment of the situation and proposals after his visit to the South Caucasian states.In the context of deepening transatlantic cooperation between the EU and the U.S., and in the run up to an EU-U.S. summit meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on 15 June, Ministers will discuss priority areas in which action coordination and dialogue with the U.S. should be strengthened.Ministers will also hold a video conference to exchange their views focusing on climate issues with the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.For more information about the Foreign Affairs Council meeting, please click here: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/fac/2021/05/10/.

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Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis: Modern threats do not recognise borders, so our response must be international, comprehensive and determined

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 7 May, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis took part in the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence Riga’s online event “Riga StratCom Dialogue 2021″ and delivered a keynote speech during a discussion on deterrence strategy in the face of contemporary threats.

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister stressed that although traditionally deterrence was associated with conventional military measures, we must also pay attention to such challenges, as complex cyber attacks and disinformation. According to the Foreign Minister, modern threats do not recognise borders, so our response must be international, comprehensive, and determined.The Foreign Minister called on the international community to take action to ensure that the Kremlin’s hybrid operation did not remain without response. “Military threats to the region emanating from Russia require our consistent attention. Malicious influence campaigns aimed at destabilising the West are no less dangerous. We need a comprehensive strategy and a forward-looking policy to combat disinformation and hostile interference in the information space. Such a strategy needs a broad approach, which also contains an element of deterrence,” said the Foreign Minister.Experts from Hudson Institute (the U.S.A.), the Polish Institute of International Relations, and the Royal Institute of International Relations (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) also spoke in the discussion. The conversation was moderated by a representative of Rīga Stradiņš University (Latvia).This is one of the leading annual international strategic communication events. Since 2015, it has brought international organisations, governments, the military community, academia, and the private sector together to discuss the most pressing issues shaping today’s information environment.

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Lithuania offers human rights recommendations to Denmark and Somalia

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 6 May, the Permanent Representative of Lithuania Ambassador Andrius Krivas took the floor at the 38th session of the Working Group of Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to address the human rights situation in Denmark and Somalia.

Lithuania commended the Danish government for continuously placing human rights at the forefront of the national agenda and steps taken to ensure the rights of the child, especially focus on the improvement of the quality of the child-protection system. Lithuania recommended Denmark to develop specific poverty reduction measures to protect children living in indigenous communities in Greenland and on the Faroe Islands. Furthermore, Lithuania recommended to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.At Somalia’s UPR, Lithuania expressed deep concern about the current political situation in the country and drew attention to the human rights challenges faced by Somalia. Lithuania recommended Somalia to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. Lithuania also recommended to finalise the establishment of the Human Rights Commission and to make it operational, independent and effective.The Universal Periodic Review is a human rights mechanism employed since 2008. The UPR assesses the human rights situation in each individual country and provides recommendations for improvements. At the end of each UPR cycle, UN Members produce reports about the implementation of the adopted recommendations and overall progress in the area of human rights. Countries undergo the UPR every five years. Lithuania had its reviews in 2011 and 2017. The third-cycle review will take place in January 2022.

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Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis: Lithuania and Cyprus are interested in strengthening the European Union’s capacity to act unanimously

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 6 May, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis held a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulides and discussed possibilities for strengthening bilateral cooperation, the situation in the European Union’s neighbourhood, important regional security issues, EU-Turkey relations, and response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Although Cyprus and Lithuania are geographically remote from each other, our countries have many common interests and common challenges,” said Landsbergis.
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister noted that the two small countries — Lithuania and Cyprus — were interested in strengthening the EU’s capacity to act effectively and unanimously on the international arena. The Foreign Minister also stressed that this was particularly important in the face of the ongoing global processes.
The Foreign Ministers highlighted the importance of European solidarity and agreed on the need to increase the EU’s focus on and involvement in the neighbourhood. The meeting underlined the importance of closer North-South cooperation and of coalition formation based on key foreign policy and security issues. They also agreed to organise regular political consultations in the future to discuss issues of mutual interest.Landsbergis noted that Lithuania and Cyprus would work together to create a unified political response mechanism in relation to unsafe nuclear power plants in the EU’s neighbourhood. During the meeting, the Foreign Ministers welcomed dynamic economic relations between the two countries and stated that there was still a lot of untapped potential for bilateral cooperation, especially in the fields of culture, education, fintech or life sciences.

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Lithuania offers human rights recommendations to Estonia and Belgium

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 4 and 5 May, the Permanent Representative of Lithuania Ambassador Andrius Krivas took the floor at the 38th session of the Working Group of Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to address the human rights situation in Estonia and Belgium.

Lithuania welcomed the establishment of Estonia’s National Human Rights Institution and increased financing for the Gender Equality Program 2020-2023. Lithuania commended Estonia’s increased representation of women in political decision-making positions, and recommended to increase it at municipalities level as well as to design and implement concrete measures to reduce the gender pay gap. Lithuania also recommended Estonia to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (OP-CEDAW) on complaint and inquiry mechanisms, and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED).
At Belgium’s UPR, Lithuania recommended to reform the Federal Human Rights Institute so that it is fully compliant with the Paris Principles. Lithuania also recommended to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OP-CAT) and to establish an effective national preventive mechanism. Acknowledging Belgium’s efforts in combating gender-based violence, Lithuania recommended to strengthen the prevention of new forms of violence, such as online harassment. 
The Universal Periodic Review is a human rights mechanism employed since 2008. The UPR assesses the human rights situation in each individual country and provides recommendations for improvements. At the end of each UPR cycle, UN Members produce reports about the implementation of the adopted recommendations and overall progress in the area of human rights. Countries undergo the UPR every five years. Lithuania had its reviews in 2011 and 2017. The third-cycle review will take place in January 2022.

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Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis visited the future historical museum of Lithuanian Jewish shtetlakh in Šeduva

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 4 May, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis visited the unique historical museum of Lithuanian Jewish shtetlakh that is under construction in Šeduva.

“The future modern Lost Shtetl Museum in Šeduva will give us and the world a more complete picture of an immensely rich history and heritage of Lithuanian Jews. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation for all of the hard work and dedication provided by the implementers and initiators of the project,” said Lithuania’s Foreign Minister.This private project is financially supported by a world-famous businessman Ivan Glasenberg, who has ancestral roots in Šeduva. Most of his relatives were killed by the Nazis in Lithuania during the Second World War.The Lost Shtetl project is carried out in cooperation with the Radviliškis district municipality.Landsbergis also paid tribute to the victims of the Holocaust. Lithuania’s Foreign Minister laid flowers at WWII massacre sites in Šeduva. The Foreign Minister was accompanied by the Member of the Seimas (Parliament) of Lithuania Dalia Asanavičiūtė and the Chair of the Lithuanian Jewish Community Faina Kukliansky.

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Lithuania’s Foreign Vice-Minister Meilūnas meets with the newly appointed Indonesian Ambassador to Lithuania

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 30 April, the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Egidijus Meilūnas met with the newly appointed Ambassador of Indonesia to Lithuania Dewi Savitri Wahab to discuss the bilateral relationship and possibilities to strengthen it.

Lithuania’s Foreign Vice-Minister noted that strengthening relations with the Indo-Pacific region, especially cooperation in the fields of economy, science and research, was among the Lithuanian Government’s foreign policy priorities.The interlocutors also discussed prospects of bilateral cooperation in the fields of biotech, fintech and infotech, aviation, and  the agri-food industry.The officials agreed to further strengthen diplomatic cooperation between the two countries by continuing bilateral political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and by organising a high-level visit from Indonesia, as well as by improving the epidemiological situation in both countries. The Foreign Vice-Minister also highlighted Indonesia’s important role in the regional organisation – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Lithuania and Indonesia established their diplomatic relations on 15 July 1993.

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Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis: Lithuania is interested in developing closer relations between the EU and Azerbaijan

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 30 April in Baku, Azerbaijan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis completed his official visit to the South Caucasus. Lithuania’s Foreign Minister was received by the President Ilham Aliyev, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeyhun Bayramov, and the Minister of Economy Mikayil Jabbarov, who co-chaired the Lithuania-Azerbaijan Intergovernmental Commission on Bilateral Cooperation together with Landsbergis. The officials of both countries discussed prospects of strengthening bilateral relations, preparations for the next Eastern Partnership summit scheduled for the autumn, the region’s security situation and other issues of international policy.

“Azerbaijan is our important partner. We are successfully developing practical cooperation with the country. Moreover, Azerbaijan is the largest export market in the region,” said Landsbergis. The interlocutors drew attention to the intensive process of sharing Lithuania’s reform experience with Azerbaijan (our country’s institutions are already involved in 12 EU Twinning projects in Azerbaijan) and the interest that young Azerbaijanis took in studies at Lithuanian universities. Landsbergis noted that Azerbaijan was a strategic partner of the EU in the field of energy and highlighted the importance of closer relations between the EU and Azerbaijan. Lithuania’s Foreign Minister hoped that the EU’s negotiations on a new framework agreement with Azerbaijan would soon be concluded. In 2017, the EU and Azerbaijan began talks on the new framework agreement, which is designed to give new impetus to mutually beneficial cooperation. The representatives of both Lithuania and Azerbaijan agreed that this would be an important achievement in the run-up to the next Eastern Partnership summit.At the meetings with Azerbaijani officials, Landsbergis stressed that Lithuania was interested in a sustainable long-term solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which would substantially contribute to the consolidation of peace and stability in the South Caucasus. Lithuania’s Foreign Minister said that Lithuania supported the efforts of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. Landsbergis also spoke in favour of a greater role of the EU in this process. On the eve of the official meetings, 29 April in Baku, the Minister of Foreign Affairs also opened a photography exhibition, dedicated to Lithuanian Tatars and attended a joint event with Poland to commemorate the 230th anniversary of the Constitution of 3 May.

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Lithuania’s Foreign Vice-Minister Adomėnas called on all EU member states to get more involved in the implementation of the EU development cooperation

Source: Republic of Lithuania

On 29 April, the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Mantas Adomėnas took part in an informal video conference of Foreign Affairs Ministers (Development). The meeting focused on the Future European Financial Architecture for Development, actions and measures to be taken for the improvement of the institutional framework.

Foreign Affairs Ministers agreed that in order to improve the achievement of the EU’s external objectives, there was no need to create new institutions, but rather to make use of experiences and strengths of various actors on the EU development cooperation stage by creating a better framework for coordinating external action.Adomėnas emphasised the need to ensure an open and inclusive financial architecture for development. “It is important to establish mechanisms to facilitate the involvement of all member states in the practical implementation of the EU development cooperation” said Adomėnas.

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